The Delhi Police detained 24 students from the Delhi University’s Arts Faculty for planning to screen a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged role in 2002 Gujarat riots, PTI reported.

“Around 4 pm, some 20 people came outside the Arts Faculty gate to screen the banned BBC documentary,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Sagar Singh Kalsi said. “As it can cause disturbance of peace and tranquility in the area, they were asked to disperse from there. When they did not, they were detained.”

Earlier on Friday, the police had banned large gatherings inside the campus after Delhi University Proctor Rajni Abbi said the administration would not allow the screening planned by some student bodies.

Heavy police deployment was done inside Ambedkar University as well to stop the screening, PTI reported. The Students’ Federation of India unit of the Ambedkar University alleged that the screening could not be held as the college administration disconnected the power supply. The students watched the documentary on their personal electronic devices.

The first episode of the BBC’s two-part documentary titled India: The Modi Question was released on January 17. It alleges that a team sent by the British government had found that Modi, who was the chief minister of Gujarat when the riots took place, was “directly responsible for a climate of impunity” that led to the violence against Muslims. The second part was released on Tuesday.

While the documentary has not been made available in India, pirated links of the film have been shared widely on online platforms.

On January 20, the government had used emergency powers available under the Information Technology Rules, 2021, to issue directions to YouTube and Twitter to block clips of the documentary from being shared. The foreign ministry had described the documentary as “a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative”.

Screenings of the documentary were disrupted at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia University earlier this week. On Wednesday, the Delhi Police had detained at least 12 ahead of a planned screening of the documentary.

On Tuesday, JNU students had alleged that they were attacked with stones after a power and internet outage at the campus halted the screening. Students had also alleged that the power was intentionally cut off by the university administration.

BBC documentary’s claims

The documentary cites a report prepared by an inquiry team sent by the British government to look into the 2002 Gujarat riots. The team had alleged that Modi had prevented the Gujarat Police from acting to stop violence targeted at Muslims, the BBC documentary claimed.

A former British senior diplomat, one of the investigators sent by the United Kingdom government, had said in the documentary that the violence had been planned by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.